Acts 9:1
And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
IX.

(1) Yet breathing out threatenings.—The “yet” implies a considerable interval since the death of Stephen, probably coinciding with the time occupied by the mission-work of Philip in the previous chapter. During this interval the persecution had probably been continuing. The Greek participle, literally, breathing-in, is somewhat more emphatic than the English. He lived, as it were, in an atmosphere of threats and slaughter. It was the very air he breathed. Patristic writers and their followers have not unnaturally seen a half-prophetic parallelism between the language of Jacob, “Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil” (Genesis 49:27), and this description of one who gloried in being of that tribe (Philippians 3:5), and bore the name of its great hero-king.

Went unto the high priest.—It will be remembered that the high priest (whether we suppose Annas or Caiaphas to be meant) was a Sadducee, and that Saul gloried in being a Pharisee of the straitest sect (Acts 26:5). The temper of the persecutor, however, does not shrink from strange companionship, and the coalition which had been formed against our Lord (Matthew 26:3) was renewed against His followers. If, as is probable, the admission of the Samaritans to the new community had become known at Jerusalem, it would naturally tend to intensify their hatred. It would seem to them as if the accursed people were now allied with the Galileans against the Holy Place, and those who were zealous for its honour.

Acts

GRACE TRIUMPHANT

Acts 9:1 - Acts 9:12
; Acts 9:17 - Acts 9:20.

This chapter begins with ‘but,’ which contrasts Saul’s persistent hatred, which led him to Gentile lands to persecute, with Philip’s expansive evangelistic work. Both men were in profound earnest, both went abroad to carry on their work, but the one sought to plant what the other was eager to destroy. If the ‘but’ in Acts 9:1 contrasts, the ‘yet’ connects the verse with Acts 8:3. Saul’s fury was no passing outburst, but enduring. Like other indulged passions, it grew with exercise, and had come to be as his very life-breath, and now planned, not only imprisonment, but death, for the heretics.

Not content with carrying his hateful inquisition into the homes of the Christians in Jerusalem, he will follow the fugitives to Damascus. The extension of the persectution was his own thought. He was not the tool of the Sanhedrin, but their mover. They would probably have been content to cleanse Jerusalem, but the young zealot would not rest till he had followed the dispersed poison into every corner where it might have trickled. The high priest would not discourage such useful zeal, however he might smile at its excess.

So Saul got the letters he asked, and some attendants, apparently, to help him in his hunt, and set off for Damascus. Painters have imagined him as riding thither, but more probably he and his people went on foot. It was a journey of some five or six days. The noon of the last day had come, and the groves of Damascus were, perhaps, in sight. No doubt, the young Pharisee’s head was busy settling what he was to begin with when he entered the city, and was exulting in the thought of how he would harry the meek Christians, when the sudden light shone.

At all events, the narrative does not warrant the view, often taken now, that there had been any preparatory process in Saul’s mind, which had begun to sap his confidence that Jesus was a blasphemer, and himself a warrior for God. That view is largely adopted in order to get rid of the supernatural, and to bolster up the assumption that there are no sudden conversions; but the narrative of Luke, and Paul’s own references, are dead against it. At one moment he is ‘yet breathing threatening and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord,’ and in almost the next he is prone on his face, asking, ‘Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?’ It was not a case of a landslide suddenly sweeping down, but long prepared for by the gradual percolation of water to the slippery understrata, but the solid earth was shaken, and the mountain crashed down in sudden ruin.

The causes of Saul’s conversion are plain in the narrative, even though the shortened form is adopted, which is found in the Revised Version. The received text has probably been filled out by additions from Paul’s own account in Acts 26:1 - Acts 26:32 First came the blaze of light outshining the midday sun, even in that land where its beams are like swords. That blinding light ‘shone round about him,’ enveloping him in its glory. Acts 26:13 tells that his companions also were wrapped in the lustre, and that all fell to the earth, no doubt in terror.

Saul is not said, either in this or in his own accounts, to have seen Jesus, but 1 Corinthians 15:8 establishes that he did so, and Ananias {Acts 9:17} refers to Jesus as having ‘appeared.’ That appearance, whatever may have been the psychological account of it, was by Paul regarded as being equal in evidential value to the flesh-and-blood vision of the risen Lord which the other Apostles witnessed to, and as placing him in the same line as a witness.

It is to be noted also, that, while the attendants saw the light, they were not blinded, as Saul was; from which it may be inferred that he saw with his bodily eyes the glorified manhood of Jesus, as we are told that one day, when He returns as Judge, ‘every eye shall see Him.’ Be that as it may,-and we have not material for constructing a theory of the manner of Christ’s appearance to Saul,- the overwhelming conviction was flooded into his soul, that the Jesus whom he had thought of as a blasphemer, falsely alleged to have risen from the dead, lived in heavenly glory, amid celestial brightness too dazzling for human eyes.

The words of gentle remonstrance issuing from the flashing glory went still further to shake the foundations of the young Pharisee’s life; for they, as with one lightning gleam, laid hare the whole madness and sin of the crusade which he had thought acceptable to God. ‘Why persecutest thou Me?’ Then the odious heretics were knit by some mysterious bond to this glorious One, so that He bled in their wounds and felt their pains! Then Saul had been, as his old teacher dreaded they of the Sanhedrin might be, fighting against God! How the reasons for Saul’s persecution had crumbled away, till there were none left with which to answer Jesus’ question! Jesus lived, and was exalted to glory. He was identified with His servants. He had appeared to Saul, and deigned to plead with him.

No wonder that the man who had been planning fresh assaults on the disciples ten minutes before, was crushed and abject as he lay there on the road, and these tremendous new convictions rushed like a cataract over and into his soul! No wonder that the lessons burned in on him in that hour of destiny became the centre-point of all his future teaching! That vision revolutionised his thinking and his life. None can affirm that it was incompetent to do so.

Luke’s account here, like Paul’s in Acts 22:1 - Acts 22:30, represents further instructions from Jesus as postponed till Saul’s meeting with Ananias, while Paul’s other account in Acts 26:1 - Acts 26:32 omits mention of the latter, and gives the substance of what he said in Damascus as said on the road by Jesus. The one account is more detailed than the other, that is all. The gradual unfolding of the heavenly purpose which our narrative gives is in accord with the divine manner. For the moment enough had been done to convert the persecutor into the servant, to level with the ground his self-righteousness, to reveal to him the glorified Jesus, to bend his will and make it submissive. The rest would be told him in due time.

The attendants had fallen to the ground like him, but seem to have struggled to their feet again, while he lay prostrate. They saw the brightness, but not the Person: they heard the voice, but not the words. Saul staggered by their help to his feet, and then found that with open eyes he was blind. Imagination or hallucination does not play tricks of that sort with the organs of sense.

The supernatural is too closely intertwined with the story to be taken out of it without reducing it to tatters. The greatest of Christian teachers, who has probably exercised more influence than any man who ever lived, was made a Christian by a miracle. That fact is not to be got rid of. But we must remember that once when He speaks of it He points to God’s revelation of His Son ‘in Him’ as its essential character. The external appearance was the vehicle of the inward revelation. It is to be remembered, too, that the miracle did not take away Saul’s power of accepting or rejecting the Christ; for he tells Agrippa that he was ‘not disobedient to the heavenly vision.’

What a different entry he made into Damascus from what he expected, and what a different man it was that crawled up to the door of Judas, in the street that is called Straight, from the self-confident young fanatic who had left Jerusalem with the high priest’s letters in his bosom and fierce hate in his heart!

Ananias was probably not one of the fugitives, as his language about Saul implies that he knew of his doings only by hearsay. The report of Saul’s coming and authority to arrest disciples had reached Damascus before him, with the wonderful quickness with which news travels in the East, nobody knows how. Ananias’s fears being quieted, he went to the house where for three days Saul had been lying lonely in the dark, fasting, and revolving many things in his heart. No doubt his Lord had spoken many a word to him, though not by vision, but by whispering to his spirit. Silence and solitude root truth in a soul. After such a shock, absolute seclusion was best.

Ananias discharged his commission with lovely tenderness and power. How sweet and strange to speaker and hearer would that ‘Brother Saul’ sound! How strong and grateful a confirmation of his vision would Ananias’s reference to the appearance of the Lord bring! How humbly would the proud Pharisee bow to receive, laid on his head, the hands that he had thought to bind with chains! What new eyes would look out on a world in which all things had become new, when there fell from them as it had been scales, and as quickly as had come the blinding, so quickly came the restored vision!

Ananias was neither Apostle nor official, yet the laying on of his hands communicated ‘the Holy Ghost.’ Saul received that gift before baptism, not after or through the ordinance. It was important for his future relations to the Apostles that he should not have been introduced to the Church by them, or owed to them his first human Christian teaching. Therefore he could say that he was ‘an Apostle, not from men, neither through man.’ It was important for us that in that great instance that divine gift should have been bestowed without the conditions accompanying, which have too often been regarded as necessary for, its possession.Acts 9:1-2. And Saul, yet (ετι, adhuc, hitherto, or still) breathing out threatenings and slaughter — This very emphatical expression refers to what is related of Saul, Acts 8:3; (where see the note;) and it shows that his zeal against the followers of Christ was so outrageous that he could be satisfied with nothing less than their utter destruction. It shows too, that the Jews were now at liberty to put them to death; probably, as Macknight observes, “because between the removal of Pontius Pilate, and the accession of Herod Agrippa, in the second year of the Emperor Claudius, who gave him all the dominions of his grandfather, Herod the Great, there was no procurator in Judea to restrain their intemperate zeal.” Saul, therefore, being thus freed from restraint, and at liberty to pursue his malicious design of endeavouring to effect their extirpation; went to the high-priest — Whom he knew to be much exasperated against them; and desired of him letters to Damascus — It is generally supposed that Caiaphas now filled the office of high-priest; and if so, as he was an inveterate enemy of Christ, and had a principal hand in his crucifixion, he would doubtless be glad to employ so active and bigoted a zealot as Saul in carrying on the persecution against them, which at this time was very violent and severe. To the synagogues — From this, and from Acts 9:20 th, where Paul is said to preach Christ at Damascus in the synagogues of the Jews, it appears there were more than one in that city, as there were also in divers other cities of the Gentiles. These synagogues, it seems, had a jurisdiction over their own members, in the exercise of which, however, they were sometimes directed, as on this occasion, by the high-priest and council at Jerusalem. At this time Damascus was full of Jews. Indeed, being the capital city of Syria, it generally abounded with them; so much so, that Josephus assures us ten thousand of them were once massacred there in one hour; and at another time, eighteen thousand with their wives and children. (Joseph. Bell., lib. 2. cap. 20; and lib. 7. cap. 8.) Now in a place which so much abounded with Jews, it is very likely there would be some Christians. Probably, indeed, some of those whom persecution had driven from Jerusalem had taken refuge there, and by their zeal and diligence had been instrumental in making converts to the faith of Christ. If so, it must have exceedingly vexed Saul to find that his endeavours to extirpate Christianity only tended to spread it the more, and to increase the number of those who embraced it. This, of course, would the more inflame his rage against Christ’s disciples, and excite him to make still greater efforts to destroy them, and exterminate their religion. Be this as it may, understanding that there were Christians at Damascus, although it was at a great distance from Jerusalem, he resolved to go thither, with his new commission from the high-priest; that if he found any there of this way — Any of the Christian community; whether they were men or women — For he and his employers spared no age or sex; he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem — To be proceeded against in the severest manner by the sanhedrim. He was not content with having driven many of them into exile, and with having imprisoned others, (Acts 8:3,) but he thirsted for their blood. And, as he was joined by assistants equally bigoted and furious with himself, the news of their coming reached Damascus before they arrived, and greatly terrified the saints, Acts 9:14; Acts 9:21. The Lord, however, marvellously interposed for their deliverance, and probably in answer to their united and fervent prayers; but in a way which, it is likely, none of them had thought of.9:1-9 So ill informed was Saul, that he thought he ought to do all he could against the name of Christ, and that he did God service thereby; he seemed to breathe in this as in his element. Let us not despair of renewing grace for the conversion of the greatest sinners, nor let such despair of the pardoning mercy of God for the greatest sin. It is a signal token of Divine favour, if God, by the inward working of his grace, or the outward events of his providence, stops us from prosecuting or executing sinful purposes. Saul saw that Just One, ch. 22:14; 26:13. How near to us is the unseen world! It is but for God to draw aside the veil, and objects are presented to the view, compared with which, whatever is most admired on earth is mean and contemptible. Saul submitted without reserve, desirous to know what the Lord Jesus would have him to do. Christ's discoveries of himself to poor souls are humbling; they lay them very low, in mean thoughts of themselves. For three days Saul took no food, and it pleased God to leave him for that time without relief. His sins were now set in order before him; he was in the dark concerning his own spiritual state, and wounded in spirit for sin. When a sinner is brought to a proper sense of his own state and conduct, he will cast himself wholly on the mercy of the Saviour, asking what he would have him to do. God will direct the humbled sinner, and though he does not often bring transgressors to joy and peace in believing, without sorrows and distress of conscience, under which the soul is deeply engaged as to eternal things, yet happy are those who sow in tears, for they shall reap in joy.And Saul - See the notes on Acts 7:58; Acts 8:3. He had been engaged be fore in persecuting the Christians, but he now sought opportunity to gratify his insatiable desire on a larger scale.

Yet breathing out - Not satisfied with what he had done, Acts 8:3. The word breathing out is expressive often of any deep, agitating emotion, as we then breathe rapidly and violently. It is thus expressive of violent anger. The emotion is absorbing, agitating, exhausting, and demands a more rapid circulation of blood to supply the exhausted vitality; and this demands an increased supply of oxygen, or vital air, which leads to the increased action of the lungs. The word is often used in this sense in the Classics (Schleusner). It is a favorite expression with Homer. Euripides has the same expression: "Breathing out fire and slaughter." So Theocritus: "They came unto the assembly breathing mutual slaughter" (Idyll. 22:82).

Threatening - Denunciation; threatening them with every breath the action of a man violently enraged, and who was bent on vengeance. It denotes also "intense activity and energy in persecution."

Slaughter - Murder. Intensely desiring to put to death as many Christians as possible. He rejoiced in their death, and joined in condemning them, Acts 26:10-11. From this latter place it seems that he had been concerned in putting many of them to death.

The disciples of the Lord - Against Christians.

Went unto the high priest - See the notes on Matthew 2:4. The letters were written and signed in the name and by the authority of the Sanhedrin, or written and signed in the name and by the authority of the Sanhedrin, or Great Council of the nation. The high priest did it as president of that council. See Acts 9:14, and Acts 22:5. The high priest at that time was Theophilus, son of Ananus, who had been appointed at the feast of Pentecost, 37 a.d., by Vitellius, the Roman governor. His brother Jonathan had been removed from that office the same year (Kuinoel).

CHAPTER 9

Ac 9:1-25. Conversion of Saul, and Beginnings of His Ministry.

1. Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, &c.—The emphatic "yet" is intended to note the remarkable fact, that up to this moment his blind persecuting rage against the disciples of the Lord burned as fiercely as ever. (In the teeth of this, Neander and Olshausen picture him deeply impressed with Stephen's joyful faith, remembering passages of the Old Testament confirmatory of the Messiahship of Jesus, and experiencing such a violent struggle as would inwardly prepare the way for the designs of God towards him. Is not dislike, if not unconscious disbelief, of sudden conversion at the bottom of this?) The word "slaughter" here points to cruelties not yet recorded, but the particulars of which are supplied by himself nearly thirty years afterwards: "And I persecuted this way unto the death" (Ac 22:4); "and when they were put to death, I gave my voice [vote] against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to [did my utmost to make them] blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange [foreign] cities" (Ac 26:10, 11). All this was before his present journey.Acts 9:1-9 Saul, going towards Damascus, is encompassed with a

light from heaven, falleth to the earth, is called by

Christ, and led blind to Damascus.

Acts 9:10-22 Ananias is sent to him, by whom he is restored to sight,

and baptized: he straightway preacheth Christ boldly.

Acts 9:23-25 The Jews of Damascus seek to kill him.

Acts 9:26-30 He goeth to Jerusalem, and is brought to the apostles

by Barnabas: preaching boldly against the Grecians, he

is again in danger of his life, and is sent to Tarsus.

Acts 9:31 The church hath rest, and is multiplied,

Acts 9:32-35 Peter cureth Eueas of the palsy at Lydda,

Acts 9:36-43 and raiseth Tabitha to life at Joppa.

St. Luke intending a narrative of the wonderful conversion

of St. Paul, lets us know what manner of person he was before his

conversion, that none might despond of the grace of God, who earnestly

and heartily seek it.

Breathing out threatenings and slaughter; so full of rage within,

that the stream was outwardly apparent, which that inward fire had

sent forth: nothing less than destruction of the church is aimed at by

its enemies; whilst Saul was one of them he hunted after their

precious life too.

The high priest; who did usually preside in their great council,

in which they took cognizance of such matters; The blood of Stephen did

not quench their thirst, but increased it; they would spill more still.

And Saul yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter,.... The historian having given an account of the dispersion of all the preachers of the Gospel at Jerusalem, excepting the apostles, and of their success in other parts, especially of Philip's, returns to the history of Saul; who, not satisfied with the murder of Stephen, and with the havoc he made of the church at Jerusalem, haling them out of their houses to prison, continued not only to threaten them with confiscation of goods and imprisonment, but with death itself. The phrase here used is an Hebraism; so in Psalm 27:12 , "one that breathes out violence", or cruelty; and this shows the inward disposition of his mind, the rage, wrath, malice, envy, and blood thirstiness he was full of; and is observed to illustrate the riches of divine grace in his conversion. And wonderful it is, that that same mouth which breathed out destruction and death to the followers of Christ, should afterwards publish and proclaim the Gospel of the grace of God; that he whose mouth was full of cursing and bitterness, should hereafter, and so very quickly, come forth in the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ. And this rage of his, who now ravened as a wolf, as was foretold of Benjamin, of which tribe he was, was against the lambs of Christ, and the sheep of his fold:

against the disciples of the Lord; not against wicked men, murderers, and thieves, and other evildoers, but against the harmless and innocent followers of Jesus, and which was an aggravation of his cruelty: and being thus heated, and full of wrath,

he went unto the high priest; Annas or Caiaphas, who, notwithstanding the Jews were under the Roman government, had great authority to punish persons with stripes and death itself, who acted contrary to their law.

And {1} Saul, yet {a} breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,

(1) Saul (who is also Paul), persecuting Christ most cruelly, who did as it were flee before him, falls into Christ's hands, and is overcome: and with a singular example of the goodness of God, in place of punishment which he justly deserved for his cruelty, is not only kindly received, but is also even by the mouth of God appointed an apostle, and is confirmed by the ministry and witness of Ananias.

(a) This is a sign that Saul's stomach boiled and cast out great threats to murder the disciples.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 9:1-2. Ἔτι] See Acts 8:3, hence the narrative does not stand isolated (Schleiermacher).

ἐμπνέων ἀπειλῆς κ. φόνου εἰς τ. μαθ.] out of threatening and murder breathing hard at the disciples, whereby is set forth the passionateness with which he was eager to terrify the Christians by threats, and to hurry them to death. In ἐμπνέων, observe the compound, to which the εἰς τ. μαθ. belonging to it corresponds; so that the word signifies: to breathe hard at or upon an object; as often also in classical writers, yet usually with the dative instead of with εἰς. The expression is stronger than if it were said πνέων ἀπειλὴν κ.τ.λ. (Lobeck, ad Aj. p. 342; Boeckh, Expl. Pind. p. 341). The genitives ἀπειλῆς and φόνου denote whence this ἐμπνέειν issued; threatening and murder, i.e. sanguinary desire (Romans 1:29), was within him what excited and sustained his breathing hard. Comp. ἐμπνέον ζωῆς, Joshua 10:40; Φόνου πνείοντα, “Nonn. Dionys. 25; Aristoph. Eq. p. 437; Winer, p. 192 [E. T. 255].

τῷ ἀρχιερεῖ] If the conversion of Paul occurred in the year 35 (Introduction, sec. 4), then Caiaphas was still high priest, as he was not deposed by Vitellius until the year 36 (Anger, de temp. rat. p. 184). Jonathan the son of Ananus (Joseph. Antt. xviii. 4. 3) succeeded him; and he, after a year, was succeeded by his brother Theophilus (Joseph. Antt. xviii. 5. 3).

Λαμασκός, דַמֶּשֶׂק, the old capital of Syria, in which, since the period of the Seleucidae, so many Jews resided that Nero could cause 10,000 to be executed (Joseph. Bell. Jud. i. 2. 25, ii. 20. 2). It was specially to Damascus that the persecuting Saul turned his steps, partly, doubtless, because the existence of the hated sect in that city was well known to him (the church there may have owed its origin and its enlargement as well to the journeys of the resident Jews to the feasts, as to visits of the dispersed from Jerusalem); partly, perhaps, also, because personal connections promised for his enterprise there the success which he desired.

πρὸς τὰς συναγωγ.], from which, consequently, the Christians had not as yet separated themselves. Comp. Lechler, apost. Zeit. p. 290.

The recognition of the letters of authorization at Damascus was not to be doubted, as that city was in the year 35 still under Roman dominion; and Roman policy was accustomed to grant as much indulgence as possible to the religious power of the Sanhedrim, even in criminal matters (only the execution of the punishment of death was reserved to the Roman authority).

τῆς ὁδοῦ ὄντας] who should be of the way. The way, in the ethical sense, is here κατ ̓ ἐξοχήν the Christian, i.e. the characteristic direction of life as determined by faith on Jesus Christ (ὁδὸς κυρίου, Acts 18:25),—an expression in this absolute form peculiar to the Book of Acts (Acts 19:9, Acts 22:4, Acts 24:14; Acts 24:22), but which certainly was in use in the apostolic church. Oecumenius indicates the substantial meaning: τὴν κατὰ Χριστὸν εἶπε πολιτείαν.

εἶναι, with the genitive in the sense of belonging to. See Bernhardy, p. 165; Winer, p. 184 [E. T. 244].Acts 9:1. Ὁ δὲ Σαῦλος: takes up and continues the narrative from Acts 8:3; the resumptive use of δέ.—ἔτι: “Sic in summo fervore peccandi ereptus et conversus est” Bengel.—ἐμπνέων: only here in N.T., not “breathing out,” A.V., but rather “breathing of,” lit[221], “in” (R.V. simply “breathing”), cf. LXX, Joshua 10:40; πᾶν ἐμπνέον ζωῆς (cf. Psalm 17:15)—threatening and murdering were as it were the atmosphere which he breathed, and in and by which he lived, cf. Stobæus, Flor., 85, 19, ὀδμῆς ἐμπνέοντα, L. and S. and Blass, in loco (cf. also Aristoph., Eq., 437 οὗτος ἤδη κακίας καὶ συκοφαντίας πνεῖ, and Winer-Moulton, xxx., 9).—τῷ ἀρχιερεῖ: probably Joseph Caiaphas, who continues thus to persecute the Church, see on Acts 4:6 (Acts 5:17); he held office until 36 A.D., see Zödder’s note, in loco, and “Caiaphas,” B.D.2, and Hastings’ B.D. “Saul as a Pharisee makes request of a Sadducee!” says Felten.

[221] literal, literally.Acts 9:1-9. Saul’s mission to Damascus and his Conversion

1. And [But] Saul, yet breathing out threatenings [threatening] It is better to translate the conjunction adversatively here, as the new subject is not connected except with the first sentence of chap. 8. The verb in this clause should be rendered “breathing,” not “breathing out.” Threatening and slaughter was, as it were, the atmosphere in which Saul was living.

and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord] We are not told of any other death, but Stephen’s, in which Saul was a participator, but we can gather from his own words (Acts 26:10) “when they were put to death, I gave my voice [vote] against them,” that the protomartyr was not the only one who was killed in the time of this persecution. It has been suggested that the zeal which Saul shewed at the time of Stephen’s death led to his election into the Sanhedrin, and so he took a judicial part in the later stages of the persecution, and, it may be, from a desire to justify the choice of those who had placed him in authority, he sought to be appointed over the enquiry after the Christians in Damascus. We gather from Acts 26:10 that before this inquisitorial journey he had been armed with the authority of the chief priests in his search after the Christians in Jerusalem.

went unto the high priest] who would most likely be the authority through whom the power, which the Great Sanhedrin claimed to exercise, in religious matters, over Jews in foreign cities, would be put in motion.Acts 9:1. Ἔτι, as yet) Thus it was when his vehement ardour in sinning had reached its height, that he was rescued and converted. Comp. ch. Acts 22:3, etc., Acts 26:4, etc., 11. For Luke puts off until then, as is the wont of Scripture, the narration of many details concerning the whole matter, and concerning the words of Ananias (Acts 22:12-16).—τῷ ἀρχιερεῖ, unto the High Priest) His authority influenced the Jews even at Damascus: Acts 9:14.Verse 1. - But for and, A.V.; breathing for breathing out, A.V.; threatening for threatenings, A.V. Threatening and slaughter. The phrase ἐμπνέων ἀπειλῆς κ.τ.λ., is rather a difficult one, and is variously explained. Schleusner takes the genitives in "threatening and slaughter" as genitives of the thing desired, "punting after threatening and slaughter" (comp. Amos 2:7). Meyer explains it "out of the threatenings and murder [in his heart] breathing hard at the disciples" - an expression indicating passion. Alford, taking nearly the sense of the A.V., makes "threatenings and slaughter" to be as it were the very material of his breath, whether breathed out or breathed in. Considering that ἐμπνέω means "to breathe in," as distinguished from ἐκπνέω, "to breathe out," and that these two are opposed to each other in Hippocrates (see Schleusner), the A.V. breathing out cannot be justified; nor is it likely that "Luke the physician" would forget the distinction. The difficulty is to explain the genitive case of "threatenings" and "slaughter." The high priest; probably the same person who is so described in Acts 7:1 (where see note). If the year with which we are now dealing was the year A.D. , Caiaphas was high priest. But Alford, Lewin, Farrar, and others place Saul's conversion in A.D. , when Theophilus, son of Annas or Ananus, was high priest (Chronicles Table in Alford's 'Proleg. to Acts'). Breathing out (ἐμπνέων)

Lit., breathing upon or at, and so corresponding to against the disciples.

Threatenings and slaughter (ἀπειλῆς καὶ φόνου)

Lit., threatening; so Rev. In the Greek construction, the case in which these words are marks them as the cause or source of the "breathing;" breathing hard out of threatening, and murderous desire.

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